PRETORIA, South Africa–Yesterday, I was provided a golden opportunity to address the Pan African Parliament, one of the permanent organs of the African Union, and the entity that will begin making enforceable legislation for all of Africa within the next four years. Currently, the PAP is an advisory, consultative body comprising representatives from virtually all 54 AU member countries. The PAP presents its findings, resolutions and recommended suggestions to the Executive Council and the Assembly Heads of State for AU action. These two entities are the policy-making authority in the AU.
The African Diaspora, as has been mentioned in this column several times, was invited to join the African Union and participate as voting members in decisions on the future of Africa. As a delegate attending the AU’s Diaspora Summit Conference in Pretoria, I was given an opportunity to speak in the PAP session meeting simultaneously a few miles down the highway, and I focused on why we, as the African Diaspora, are not the enemy, and why we are indeed a very positive asset to the AU. Below is the context of that original speech.
“In honor of a great Pan African friend and colleague of mine who just passed, Baba Dudley Thompson, and to our hosts and friends, the government of South Africa and the African Union, the African descendants present at this gathering greet you in solidarity and appreciation for your sponsorship of this two-week set of activities. And I greet you as a delegate from the state of California and the city of Los Angeles. What a great opportunity for international dialogue and for enhancing our mutual understanding and respect for one another!
“We in the Pan African community seriously thank the AU (African Union), the AUC (African Union Commission), CIDO (Citizens Directorate for the Diaspora), the Ministry of International Relations in South Africa, and a myriad of other entities and individuals who have consistently advocated and moved forward the concept of bringing the African Diaspora into the AU as a participating, energized voting member.”
“Clearly, the resulting Diaspora Programme of Action and Consolidated Outcomes that grew out of numerous regional gatherings in various parts of the African Diaspora, and the several technical workshops from 2007 through 2011, plus the AU ministerial concurrences, now have us in the enviable position of approving the Final Programme of Action document in a large international forum. It is a grand document full of important insights, recommendations, and forward-thinking ideas.
“And while we are deeply appreciative, we must make clear at this important time that the African Diaspora does not come to this relationship as beggars, paupers, supplicants or starry-eyed novices. We also do not come to this relationship as competitors or exploiters. Indeed, we come as family members reuniting, and as allies.
“We know we must come–and we fully intend to come–as bearers of economic benefits, as cultural and policy-making experts of networked media and artistry, as skillful NGO organizers of millions of people, and as willing workers in the long struggle to achieve the United States of Africa. We come as additional architects and builders to structure lasting capacity along the African Union Roadmap. We do not come to save Africa–Africa already has enough saviors. We come as lasting partners to bring enormous resources to the table to work collaboratively with our African kith and kin to achieve the Roadmap goal.
“A United States of Africa (or Union of African States) benefits and adds backbone to Africans living everywhere on the planet. Our combined status is raised wherever we are by a united Africa with expanded economic and cultural leverage and clout.
“The African Diaspora currently does hundreds, even thousands, of individual projects in Africa every year. These include building hospitals, drilling water-well bore holes in African villages, bringing ambulances and other medical equipment to the continent, spending quality time as dentists and physicians tending to those who need it, financially supporting orphanages, school fees, computer labs, school renovation and library construction, etc. The main problem is that these efforts are often redundant and they are scattered. There needs to be a major organization and consolidation of such efforts to maximize their impact and to better focus bringing the needed resources and human capital to the areas that most require them. The African Diaspora will do just that, and has already started on that project.”
“Just as surely, our continuing efforts to achieve operational African unity will be enhanced greatly by Diasporans becoming effective lobbyists in their country of residence for governmental policies which bring much more trade than aid to Africa. For example, there are currently two U.S. House and Senate bills–H.R. 4221 and S.B. 2215–that seek to renew and expand the range and scope of AGOA (African Growth and opportunity Act) to benefit more Americans and more African producers and retailers.
“The Diaspora, collectivized and focused, can and should have a pivotal, even determinative influence on that legislation. We have the contacts and the networks necessary to lobby on Africa’s behalf. We should also have a huge influence in the development and strategic implementation of Pan African education (not just anti-colonial education) in all six regions of Africa.”
“Collectivized, the Diaspora can bring enormous financial investments, project expertise, and the collaborative skills necessary to help train the next generation of African middle managers, technicians, media craftsmen, engineers and scientists in various fields that are so urgently needed right now in EAC (East African Community), SADC (Southern Africa Development Community), ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and COMESA (Economic Community of Central African States) efforts.
“The Diaspora, once energized and motivated regarding the AU’s Roadmap, will be a tremendous and lasting asset to Africa. There is a critical core of us ready now to educate and motivate a critical mass of Diasporans to get with the AU’s program. All we need, my friends and colleagues, is the approval and go-ahead from you.”
“This AU Final Programme of Action and Consolidated Outcomes is a huge step forward. Let’s join our hands, hearts, minds and skills to accomplish the United States of Africa. As Marcus Garvey said, Up, you mighty African Race, you can accomplish what you will!”
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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